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Authors: Desiree Holt

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BOOK: Hard Lovin'
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“I’m having plenty of pleasure,” she cried. “I want you now.”

“Soon,” he promised.

His thumb rasped her clit while his fingers thrust in and out of her. And there it was again, another climax, rushing through her, making her pussy clamp and clasp and flex. Her hips rose and fell against his touch as she shook with the spasms, erotic little noises erupting from her throat. She heard Grady moan as her fingers clamped reflexively around his shaft.

She was covered with perspiration and panting unevenly when he finally kicked his jeans and boxers to the floor and ripped his shirt over his head. He made quick work of her clothing, dug a condom out of his duffle and was back between her legs almost before she could complain about his absence.

He bent her legs wide and back to open her up to him fully, staring down at her for a long moment before driving into her with one hard stroke. He closed his eyes and inhaled slowly.

“The promised land,” he breathed. “And worth the wait.”

He lowered his head to take her mouth with his before beginning a steady in and out stroke. Thrust, push, drive. He filled every inch of her, his tongue doing to her mouth what his cock was doing to her pussy, the movements coordinated. And nothing existed for her except this man and their joining. The erotic fog that wrapped itself around them. The heat that flowed between them. And a connection she’d never had with another human being.

When the orgasm hit it crashed over them with the force of a cyclone, picking them up and tossing them into a black velvet abyss where their bodies pulsed together. The walls of her cunt grabbed him and milked him, drawing every bit of burning cum from his body while she flooded him with her cream. Grady lifted his mouth from hers, threw back his head and came shouting her name.

When the storm subsided they lay spent in each other’s arms, breathing ragged, hearts thundering. Finally Grady slid from her body to dispose of the condom but he was back in a moment, wrapping her up against him, spooning her body into the curve of his.

“Hope I have enough strength left to sing tonight,” he teased.

“Hope I have enough left to watch,” she laughed.

He glided one hand down the curve of her hip and her thigh then back up to the swell of her buttock. But when the tips of his fingers slid between the cheeks and whispered over the tight opening of her anus she tightened like a rubber band and tried to pull away from him. He moved his hand at once, draping his arm over her waist and cupping the swell of one breast.

“It’s okay, Erin. We don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.”

How could she even begin to tell him the horrible memories it evoked. “It’s not…I can’t…I just wish…”

“Shh.” He kissed the shell of her ear. “No problem.”

She bit her bottom lip. “I don’t want you to think…I have reasons.” Oh, god, did she.

“And I’m hoping we’ll get to them sooner or later. Erin, I know there’s a devil chasing you and I’m not about to push you. If you didn’t mean any more to me than the women I usually fall into bed with it wouldn’t matter one hoot. But if we’re going to be together like this we need to be open with each other.”

She was silent for a moment chewing it over. She still wondered why she should care when Grady had only been a means to escape. But that was in the beginning.

Before the first time he entered her and she realized it was a lot more than that. And every minute they were together reinforced that.

“Does that go both ways?” she asked. “Will you tell me what’s put that terrible pain in your eyes?”

Now it was his turn to be silent. Finally he said, “Fair’s fair. If a couple of days from now we both decide to keep this going, then yes, both of us need to unload our baggage.”

But could she do it? Tell him how uncontrollable she’d been? The pit she’d fallen into because of that? Maybe by then he’d be so crazy about her he wouldn’t look at her as damaged goods. Or run like hell when he found out about the big manhunt for her.

She could only hope.

Chapter Four

Her father saddled his fastest steed, searched the valleys all over

Sought his daughter at great speed and the whistling gypsy rover

“Don’t let the small crowd bother you,” Bubby Trammel said when Erin and Grady walked in at seven o’clock, Grady carrying his guitar. He was standing at the end of the bar when they came in from the back, waiting for them.

Grady shrugged. “I’ve played to less. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.”

“I asked you to start earlier tonight because it’s Sunday and the crowd’s an earlier crowd. About eight you’ll see a bunch more but by ten they start to filter out. Like I said this afternoon, early during the week later starting on Thursday.”

“All the same to me. Really.” He turned to Erin. “Pick yourself a good place to sit, darlin’. It’s gonna be a long night.”

“I’ll be fine,” she assured him. “I love listening to you.”

“If you take that table in the corner,” Bubby told her, pointing, “you’ll keep yourself out of whatever traffic there is. Just let me know whatever you want to drink and I’ll keep them coming.”

“Oh, thank you, but I don’t drink. Just a soda would be good.”

Bubby chuckled. “I’ll bet your boy here is happy about that.”

She looked at Grady and frowned.

He smiled. “He means soft drinks cost so little the bar owner can comp you.

Otherwise it gets put on a tab for me.”

“Oh.” She could see she had a lot to understand about this.

“Grady here gets two drinks a night from me,” Bubby told her. “I always comp the entertainment two of whatever they want. Sometimes the customers will buy a drink but I always warn them to watch the consumption. Drunk singers get tossed on their ass.”

“I never drink until last set,” Grady told him. “So I’ll take whatever Erin’s having.

Come on, sugar, let’s get you fixed up.” He guided her to the table, took his hat off and put it on the seat next to hers. “I just want you to be aware I usually chat with the customers a little between sets if they want. Not a lot. In case you didn’t notice, I’m not a big talker.”

She laughed. “I guess I like the strong, silent type. Grady, you do whatever you have to. This is work for you. I’m good. Really.”

The lone waitress walked over and set a tall filled glass in front of her and Erin nodded her thanks.

“Okay.” Grady brushed a kiss against her cheek. “I need to go set up, check the mic again, talk to Bubby. I’ll hang with you between sets as much as I can.”

“I told you not to worry. I’m fine.”

“All right, then.”

Erin wasn’t worried about Grady talking to the customers between sets. She was more anxious about the television hanging over the bar. Right now it was tuned to a basketball game. She hoped Bubby would keep it there rather than turn to news. Or maybe turn it off altogether.

The waitress, who was wiping the table next to her, saw her looking at the television.

“He’ll leave it on until the game’s over,” she said. “Then he turns it off. Don’t worry. No volume. It won’t interfere with your boyfriend’s singing.”

Erin couldn’t tell her that was the last thing she was worried about.

* * * * *

Grady sat on the stool on the miniscule stage scanning the room while he tuned his guitar. The tables were about half full, not bad for a Sunday. He’d be through at midnight and he and Erin could go back to the motel and pick up where they’d left off.

He was beginning to think he’d never get enough of her. Which would make it very difficult when he sent her on her way.

Which he knew he would sooner or later. Bound to happen. Not that he wanted to, that was for sure. But whatever she was running from she’d still have to face. And the romance of life on the road would wear off for her very fast. He should know. He’d been wandering from place to place all this time, and by now everything had blended into one long string of second-rate bars and cheap motels. He didn’t want to think of the hole it would leave in his heart when she went. A heart she’d captured in such a short time. She was the first person in what seemed like forever to make him feel anything at all except pain. If only he could find a way to make it last.

Sometimes he wondered where the last five years had gone. Bumming from town to town and state to state with his pickup and guitar and a pocketful of songs, he lost track of times and dates. But he never lost the pain that gripped him. Or the guilt. And when he made his annual phone call the agony surfaced and consumed him all over again.

But tonight—and for however long he had her—there was Erin. A diamond in a sea of rhinestones. The woman he was sure he’d never meet. She sat in shadow in the far corner, but the dim light cast enough glow on her for him to see the elfin face and the masses of silky brown hair that framed it. She was wearing the new jeans she’d bought and a soft blue top that clung to her breasts like loving hands. He knew just how those luscious mounds felt and already he craved the feel of them again. Something in his heart turned over at the sight of her watching him, a half-smile on her face.

He strummed the guitar again, twice more to make sure he’d tuned it properly and flicked on the mic.

“Howdy.” He pitched his voice low and deep. He knew the women liked the sound of it and the men saw him as a masculine counterpart. “I’m Grady Sinclair and I hope you like my songs. If you do, tell Bubby so he’ll be sure to pay me.”

That drew a ripple of laughter as it usually did. He smiled at everyone, his glance skidding over Erin as he looked out into the semi-dark.

“This one’s for my lady.”

He launched into the opening of a song he’d written on a long, lonely night when sleep was a distant prize and his heart ached with emptiness. A song about dreams lost and found and an elusive love. When he finished there was a moment of silence then the room was filled with applause and whistles.

“Give us more, Grady,” a woman shouted.

He smiled out into the darkness and kicked off a fast, up-tempo tune. He’d give these people what they wanted but he couldn’t wait for the end of the evening, when he’d be back at the motel, Erin in his arms. A little bit of heaven for as long as he could hold on to it.

* * * * *

“Just who the hell is this Grady Sinclair?” Rance stormed, cell phone once again clapped to his ear.

The ranch house was empty now except for himself, T.J. who’d taken up residence in a guest suite, the housekeeper and the cleaning staff. The hands were at work in the barn and out on the range, herding cattle and riding fences and doing the thousand and one things necessary to keep a ranch running successfully. The caterers had taken down the tent and carted it away along with the tables, chairs, dance floor, bars and the rest of the paraphernalia.

“An itinerant singer, best as I can tell,” Brad Hollis said. “No one seems to know a thing about him except he plays nickel and dime places like Smoky’s and has a string of women running after him.”

“And where is he now?” Rance rubbed his forehead feeling a headache building behind his eyes. He’d barely slept for forty-eight hours and ignored food to fuel himself with pots of coffee.

“We’re working on it. More to the point, the Rangers are working on it.”

“She even left her damn cell phone in the truck so we can’t track her that way. Or maybe he forced her to leave it.”

“Let’s wait until we zero in on this guy to find out if he even knows where she is.”

Rance blew out a breath of exasperation. “How hard can it be to find one lousy singer?”

“Harder than you think. The places he works don’t exactly advertise and there’s thousands of them all over the state. Not to mention they might not even still be in Texas.”

“What?” The headache threatened to explode with full force. “You mean he’s taken her out of state? Isn’t there a law against that or something?”

“Rance.” The sheriff’s voice was even and steady. “I hate to point out to you again that Erin is thirty years old. Unless we have proof that she went unwillingly she can go anywhere she wants with whoever she wants.”

“Yeah? Look how well that turned out the last time.”

Brad himself had only heard the story after it was all over. He, too, had tried to get her to press charges against Cal Stadler but she’d been adamant she never even wanted to hear his name again.

“I’m well aware of that. But she’s been going through counseling for months and was really getting her act together. I’ve got to have evidence of foul play before I can put out a bulletin all over the place.”

“It’s her money.” Rance gritted his teeth. “You damn well know it is. If it’s not a kidnapping then he sweet-talked her because he knows about the Braddock money.

Well, I’m telling you here and now, he won’t get a fucking dime.”

Brad’s voice still held that reasonable tone, one that made Rance want to reach through the phone and punch him. “If it was kidnapping we’d have gotten a ransom demand by this time. The FBI is still monitoring your phones just in case but I think 50 now it’s a long shot. And my office is checking every report of a body in five states and also every emergency room. Just in case she’s hurt and can get to a hospital. But that takes time, even with all of today’s fancy electronics.”

“If anything happens to her,” Rance said in a tight voice, “I’ll have your badge.”

There was silence for a long moment at the other end of the call. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that because I know the strain you’re under. Go fix yourself a drink. I’ll get back to work here.”

The rancher stared at his cell phone, astonished that the sheriff had actually hung up on him.

“Still no word?” T.J. had come to stand in the door to the den.

“No.” Rance shook his head. “Nothing.”

“You really ought to try and lie down before you give yourself a heart attack.”

“Lie down? I can hardly sit down for more than a minute.” He looked at the man he’d expected his daughter to marry. “How come you’re not more upset than you are?

Why the hell are you so damn calm? Your fiancée ran out on you and you act like you don’t give a damn.”

BOOK: Hard Lovin'
7.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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